With Huggy Wuggy taking the world of TikTok and YouTube horror by storm, there’s no telling if this viral video trend will stay in the annals of horror-based YouTube content. For as long as there has been the internet, there have been stories and videos shared to make the world a little creepier. From quick seconds long jumpscares to short horror films, they can all be found online.
While movies meant to provoke have existed more or less since the dawn of cinema, these disconcerting downloads and malicious .mp4 files are more of a recent occurrence, with many only taking off in popularity after the debut of YouTube in 2005. Either way, they ‘ll always be around to disturb viewers with plenty of nightmare fuel to make their dreams less than pleasant.
I Feel Fantastic
In 2009, YouTube user Creepyblog uploaded an eerie video titled “I Feel Fantastic” that featured a stiff, scary animatronic wearing a wig and women’s clothing singing a high-pitched song that was seemingly generated via a text-to-speech algorithm. Something from the deepest pits of the uncanny valley, those with an irrational fear of mannequins will want to steer clear of this two-and-a-half-minute long video.
After the video’s debut, rumors circulated that it had been put together by a serial killer and that the clothes seen on the mannequin belonged to his victims. However, the creator was later revealed to be John Bergeron, a man with an innocent—albeit creepy—fascination with singing animatronics.
This Is A Special Time
Perhaps one of the most unnerving advertisements of all time, “This Is A Special Time” was a commercial for the Philadelphia-based Little Baby’s Ice Cream and featured a woman standing before the camera covered head-to-toe in what looked like vanilla ice cream. As she scooped some of the desert from the top of her head and ate it, a voiceover extolled the benefits of eating the dairy treat.
Obviously, this advertisement was meant to provoke, and the gimmick seems to have worked, as the video has over eighteen million views on YouTube. Unfortunately, Little Baby’s Ice Cream closed in 2019.
Salad Fingers is a thirteen-part animated horror web series that originated on the content-sharing site Newgrounds in 2004. Created by David Firth, Salad Fingers follows the titular character, a strange, green-skinned man with elongated fingers, living in what’s implied to be a post-apocalyptic wasteland, passing the time by talking with a series of finger puppets.
With weird premises, nails-on-chalkboard background music, and shocking moments of gore and depravity, Salad Fingers is nothing short of haunting. The series continues to this day, though new installments are incredibly infrequent, and the first installment has over 41 million views on YouTube.
Uploaded in 2008, “Username 666” sees a hapless internet user punching www.youtube.com/666 into their browser and refreshing until they’re taken to a heavily distorted, hellish version of the video-sharing platform. They experience a string of strange tech-related oddities until they attempt to sign out of Windows only to find themselves permanently stuck on the cursed webpage.
While so out-of-date as to be almost comical, Username 666 is an excellent example of early viral internet horror, and those nostalgic for YouTube’s early days may want to give this one a watch.
Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared
Debuting on YouTube in 2011, Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is a collection of six short videos intended to come across as a child’s show akin to Seasame Street or The Muppets Show. While each episode beings with standard genre fare, it eventually devolves into a dissonance of disarming and disturbing occurrences.
With over 68 million views, the first episode of Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is must-see viewing for fans of strange videos. The series was intended to lampoon the sometimes-coercive nature of children’s programming, and an actual television series is supposedly in the works.
The Max Headroom Incident
The Max Headroom Incident is perhaps the most famous television broadcast intrusion of all time. Taking place in November of 1987, an unknown hijacker interrupted 90 seconds of a Doctor Who television broadcast in the Chicago area, interjecting a bizarre video of a man in a Max Headroom mask mumbling and screaming erratically.
While it originally went down as a strange footnote, the incident gained renewed infamy after it went viral on the internet decades after the event took place. Part of the fascination surrounding the incident likely stems from the fact that the hijacker was never caught and that it’s tough to discern what they may have wanted or even what exactly is being said in the video.
Teddy Has An Operation
Uploaded in April 2012, “Teddy Has An Operation” is a strange short film that sees a doctor inspecting the disturbingly-fleshy innards of a teddy bear that has apparently fallen ill. After pulling things like crumpled cigarettes and action figures out of the bear’s organs, he’s sewen back up, supposedly good as new.
“Teddy Has An Operation” isn’t exactly scary, but it is unremittingly weird. It was uploaded by zefrank1, a user otherwise known for their comedy videos. It could be construed as a strange type of surreal comedy, though that’s ultimately for viewers to decide for themselves.
Created by YouTube user nana825763—the same user who uploaded the “Username 666″ video—”pokopokoshopping” debuted in 2014 and features two cute puppet characters hosting some sort of shopping-themed show. Things fly off the rails pretty quickly as flesh growths begin to appear on walls, products, and the characters themselves, one of the show’s hosts is disemboweled, and spontaneous fires begin to melt the set.
While it’s only amassed 2.2 million views in eight years, it’s certainly a YouTube horror gem, as if just about everything on nana825763’s channel.
Dining Room Or There Is Nothing
“Dining Room or There Is Nothing” actually made the rounds across digital forums in the days before the creation of YouTube, but the video attained renewed fame when user David Earle uploaded it to their channel in 2006. It’s a roughly minute-long clip of a mannequin-like girl speaking backward and falling face-first into a bowl before the footage is reversed and she’s revealed to have said “there is nothing.”
This video is utterly terrifying and appears to have been made for no purpose other than to shock. It’s the sort of thing that one desperately tries to forget after viewing.
The Backrooms (Found Footage)
The Backrooms is an internet urban legend that first gained traction in 2019 following a series of eerie posts on popular internet message boards. The mythos surrounds an extra-dimensional series of nearly-endless hallways that traps those unfortunate enough to fall out of reality.
In early 2022, enterprising YouTuber Kane Pixels uploaded a nine-minute short film of a hapless explorer roaming the titular territory, coming across iconic backrooms locations and getting chased by anomalous monsters. The video was the first of a series that establishes original lore surrounding the backrooms concept.
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